Skip to main content

Unit information: Mechanics 1 in 2016/17

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Mechanics 1
Unit code MATH11009
Credit points 10
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Kerswell
Open unit status Not open

First teaching block of Linear Algebra and Geometry and Calculus 1


Calculus 1, Linear Algebra and Geometry

School/department School of Mathematics
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims

Unit aims

  • To introduce the basic principles and laws of classical mechanics.
  • To develop mathematical tools of kinematics and dynamics.
  • To illustrate the ideas of mechanics by applying them to certain classical problems.

General Description of the Unit

The development of the theory of mechanics is associated with many of the greatest names in mathematics, physics, and engineering. For example, problems in mechanics motivated Newton to invent calculus. Mechanics has developed continuously since then, and is now the foundation for all mathematical physics.

This unit is an introduction. It is designed to be accessible to motivated students with no previous exposure to mechanics. However, the material will progress fast beyond the A-levels, and the viewpoint based on calculus and linear algebra will be prevalent and essential. At the same time, the physics principles underlying not only mechanics, but the whole conceptual body of modern physics, from which such names as Galileo, Newton, and Einstein are inseparable, will be continuously emphasised throughout the course.

The unit begins with a brief discussion of the basic concepts of mechanics, such as the basic properties of space and time, inertial frame of reference and point particle. Newton's laws are introduced, followed by the laws of conservation of momentum, angular momentum, and energy, followed by the notion of work and conservative and conservative forces. Classical particle motion problems in one and two dimensions are studied in some detail.

Relation to Other Units

This unit is an essential part of the Year 1 core curriculum. It uses the methods of Linear Algebra and Geometry and Calculus 1 (and partially some methods systematically taught later in Calculus 2), as well as introduces some techniques of the analysis of Ordinary Differential Equations, taught in Year 2.

Further information is available on the School of Mathematics website:

Additional unit information can be found at

Intended Learning Outcomes

Learning Objectives

  • To create a solid foundation for understanding of basic principles of Mechanics and some of its classical problems.
  • To be able to use Calculus and Linear Algebra to approach these problems.
  • To open ways to further study of Applied Mathematics

Transferable Skills

Mechanics 1 is a pre-requisite for studying any further mathematical physics. Even if you plan to further specialise in Pure Mathematics or Statistics, Mechanics will provide you with a rich source of mathematical techniques and intuition for advancing in your studies.

Teaching Information

Lectures, homework, problem-solving and tutorials. Motivation and independent reading.

Assessment Information

90% 1.5 hour examination

10% coursework

Raw scores on the examinations will be determined according to the marking scheme written on the examination paper. The marking scheme, indicating the maximum score per question, is a guide to the relative weighting of the questions. Raw scores are moderated as described in the Undergraduate Handbook.

If you fail this unit and are required to resit, reassessment is by a written examination in the August/September Resit and Supplementary exam period.

Reading and References

Reading and references are available at